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Historic Diaries: Black Hawk War

May 24, Militia Headquarters: "Disorder in the Brigade"

Editor's Note:

Late May was a hard time for the militia. They were unable to find Black Hawk's band, were plagued by mosquitoes, rain, and heat, and subsisted on bad food in unpleasant quarters. It was more than many volunteers could take, and not only did large numbers refuse to re-enlist when their initial 30 days were up, but others simply disappeared from camp and headed home.

This order by General Whiteside shows that even the most basic discipline in the militia had crumbled, and many soldiers were deserting while Black Hawk's warriors were outrunning them in northern Illinois. One militia soldiers who did not disappear was 23-year-old Abraham Lincoln, who was discharged on May 28th and immediately re-enlisted.

Samuel Whiteside Orders
General orders
Head Quarters may 24th. 1832

The great disorder in the Brigade occasioned by the men's quiting their places in the line and scattering over the country renders it absolutely necessary to inflict punishment on every one who violates orders in that particular:

Colonels of Regiments and Majors of Separate battalions will require that every man shall keep his place in the ranks, if the individual is able to march, and if not he will obtain permission of his captain to march in the rear of the army; all foot men will march with Major Long's battalion. Should any man attempt to pass out of the army on either flank, or should be found out without permission they will be taken in custody of the guard, and if he be an officer will immediately be arrested. The officer of the day will be particularly charged with the execution of this order.

By order of the Brig Genl. N. Buckmaster, Brig Maj

[Source: Whitney, Ellen M., ed. The Black Hawk War, 1831-1832. (Springfield: Illinois State Historical Society, 1970), p.434]

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